China to join Australia, US in exercises
Updated: 2016-08-26 07:28
Beijing confirmed on Thursday that China will hold joint military exercises in September involving Australia and the United States, in addition to its joint naval drill with Russia in the South China Sea next month.
Observers said the drills show the steady development of the Chinese military's ties with key Asia-Pacific counterparts and signal efforts to ensure stability to help ease maritime tension in the South China Sea.
Wu Qian, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, announced at a briefing in Beijing that China, Australia and the United States will conduct "Exercise Kowari 2016" in Darwin, Australia, from Wednesday to September 11.
The exercise, the third among the three countries' ground forces, will involve drills for survival in the wild, Wu said.
Additionally, Chinese and Australian troops will hold "Exercise Panda-Kangaroo 2016" in Sydney from September 14 to 23. The exercise will include such tasks as canoeing, Wu said.
Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the Kowari exercise mirrors a "shared readiness to bring the trilateral security relationship forward".
The fact that the two annual drills involving Australia will be continued this year "demonstrates Australia's wish to avoid sabotaging its security ties with China", Zhang said.
Australia has joined the United States and Japan in pressing China to accept an international arbitration ruling in July in a case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines in its dispute with China in the South China Sea.
Zhang said Australia is trying to strike a balance between the US, its traditional security ally, and China, a major economic and trade partner.
"It is wise to avoid taking sides between China and the US and stop supporting US provocation against China over the South China Sea issue," Zhang added.
In July, the Ministry of National Defense announced that the navies of China and Russia will hold a joint drill in the South China Sea in September to "enhance the capabilities of the two navies to jointly deal with maritime security threats".
On Thursday, Wu said the drill will involve "joint maritime defense actions".
Yin Zhuo, director of the Expert Consultation Committee of the People's Liberation Army Navy, said it is natural for Beijing and Moscow to hold a drill in the South China Sea this year, since they have previously held exercises in other coastal regions of China.
The China-Russia exercise is "out of security consideration" and has no specific target, Yin added.
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